Booth Western Art Museum in Cartersville, Georgia

Booth Western Art Museum in Cartersville

Must-See Stops off I-75

Explore these can’t-miss stops on your journey through Georgia.

With its big-time historical sites and small, quirky attractions, Georgia’s I-75 has "road trip" written all over it. Whether you drive it north to south in one long adventure (which is how we’ve explored it here) or choose to break its 339 miles into smaller trips, you’ll get a kick out of the great photo opportunities, scrumptious eats and educational possibilities along the way.

Exit 352 - Ringgold

The journey begins a stone’s throw from the Tennessee border at the Georgia Visitor Information Center in Ringgold, where you’ll find brochures, travel tips and helpful information from friendly staff. Pick up some reading material for the road and plot your course to the state's world-famous attractions, best places to eat and relaxing places to stay. 

Exit 312 - Calhoun

Next, head to Calhoun, home to an adult-sized treehouse featuring the fuselage of a Piper Navajo airplane (the master bedroom), a boat (the back porch), and a submarine prop from a 1960s Elvis movie. Yes, someone does indeed live in Sam’s Treehouse -- Sam Edwards, author and former aide to President Jimmy Carter.

The Rock Garden in Calhoun, Georgia
The Rock Garden in Calhoun, Georgia

Another must-see gem off exit 312 is known by locals as The Rock Garden. Open on weekdays, this magical plot tucked behind the Seventh Day Adventist Church features a miniature city of 50 structures -- castles, bridges, a monastery, a cemetery, and more -- built with pebbles, shells, glass, and ceramic tile.

Before departing Calhoun, satisfy your barbecue craving with fall-off-the-bone ribs at Dub's High On The Hog Bar B Que. The nondescript downtown joint doesn't have a sign (it’s that good!), so take Highway 53 South to Highway 41 North and look for a log cabin with a red roof and a parking lot filled with cars.

Exit 293 & 288 - Cartersville

Now, make your way south to Cartersville for the ultimate in fun for the kiddos -- dinosaurs, cowboys, and Indians, oh my! Get your natural-history kicks at the Tellus Science Museum (exit 293), with glowing minerals, a massive T. rex, an interactive fossil dig, and much more.

Tellus Science Center in Cartersville, Georgia
Tellus Science Center in Cartersville, Georgia

From there, explore Etowah Indian Mounds State Historic Site (exit 288), the most intact Mississippian culture site in the Southeast. From 1000 to 1550 AD, it was home to several thousand Native Americans and is now rich in artifacts.

And because your visit wouldn’t be complete without a little cowboy action, stop at the Booth Western Art Museum in downtown Cartersville (exit 288). It features the largest permanent collection of contemporary Western art in America, including paintings, movie posters, and an interactive kids room.

Exit 212 - Locust Grove

Wave to Atlanta as you travel south to Locust Grove and Noah's Ark Animal Sanctuary, a 250-acre nonprofit animal sanctuary where more than 1,500 abused, injured, and orphaned animals (including a lion, tiger, and bear that live together as a family) are cared for. Call ahead to ensure the habitat is open to visitors. 

BLT at Noah's Ark
Bear and Tiger at Noah's Ark. Photo from Facebook

Exit 142 - Fort Valley

Is it time for a slice of peach pie yet? Absolutely, and Lane Southern Orchards in Fort Valley is happy to oblige. Depending on the season, you can also check out the strawberry patch, corn maze, and farm tours.

Exit 127 - Montezuma

Hungry for more? Just a hop and a skip down the interstate, you’ll delight in delicious, budget-friendly fare like grandma-style fried chicken, mashed potatoes, and green beans, at Yoder's Deitsch Haus, which sits within a Mennonite community in Montezuma.

Fried chicken and sides at Yoder's Deitsch Haus
Fried chicken and sides at Yoder's Deitsch Haus

Exit 109 - Vienna

And don’t forget to pop off I-75 for a heaping bag of freshly roasted, Georgia-grown peanuts or pecan halves at family-run Ellis Brothers Pecans

Exit 82 - Ashburn

Blink and you’ll miss the Crime and Punishment Museum in Ashburn. Outside, the former jail resembles a brick house; inside, you’ll see remnants of the South’s colorful jail history, including a replica of “Old Sparky,” Georgia’s electric chair. The museum’s unusual Last Meal Cafe, named for death-row inmates’ lavish last meals, provides Southern-food lunches by appointment on Saturdays.

Crime & Punishment Museum
Old Sparky at the Crime & Punishment Museum in Ashburn, Georgia

Exit 41 - Sparks

Our ride down I-75 ends at Horse Creek Winery Tasting Room - Sparks, where its 40 acres produce some of the sweetest muscadine grapes in the country. A rustic tasting room welcomes you to sample the handmade wines; on a hot day, the signature wine slushy is a must-try.

Horse Creek Winery
Horse Creek Winery

Published: January 2015